Red Spinel

So I’ve posted some (a lot) of pictures and several blog posts on red spinel, and even have some running as banners along the top of my blog. Spinel is one of my favorite gemstones, mostly because it produces the best gray color, but also because it has an almost metallic sheen to it sometimes. Spinel is very good at having a variety of colors, I’d go so far as to say it’s right up there with sapphire, tourmaline and garnet with the rainbow of colors it comes in.

Now, I’m not a huge red person for myself, but red spinel has slowly been working on that for me. I like red spinel so much that the color red has been slowly wormed into my collection.

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I also have a few international friends that are seeking their own red spinels, and I have received red spinel for them and evaluated them so they don’t have to take the risk and time of international shipping, which is beneficial for both them and the vendors of said stones. I really enjoy doing this and I wish they’d utilize me more often!

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Red spinel melee can vary a bit, and I swear it is on my list to get mine from my gem store set sooner rather than later. I said in this post that I would set them in 2015. We’ll see how the year progresses, but at this point I’m going to aim for more like 2016, since all of my jewelry money is being funneled into putting my jewelry line together.

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So one of the things about red spinel, is that it used to get mislabeled as ruby precisely because of it’s rich red color. The Black Prince’s Ruby is the best and most widely known example of red spinel being mistaken for a ruby, but it is certainly not the only one. One really fantastic thing (in my opinion) about red spinel is that it doesn’t have the fine inclusions that ruby does, so unlike most ruby, spinel actually sparkles, instead of the glowy velvety look of ruby.

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Now, red is one of the most highly sought after colors of gemstones, if not THE highest sought after color. Ruby has traditionally been the most expensive red gemstone, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. Red spinel, on the other hand, has been going and will likely continue going way up in price, especially as it gets to be more popular and mainstream. It is already rivaling ruby on the pricing plane, and yet, it is still incredibly difficult to find quality pieces. As with all gemstones, there is a price premium that accompanies stones of larger sizes.

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I didn’t really bring up a lot about modifiers in this post because the red hue was exactly what my friend was looking for, but in reds it is very important because they can mean a big price difference for what some might see as being a very small variation. Red usually has some kind of color modifier and the most typical are orange, blue/purple, pink and brown. The most commonly forgivable modifier is pink, since pink is a lighter toned red, but some people can excuse purple/blues and oranges because of personal taste and/or budget. Browns are typically going to be the most economically priced, while pure reds are going to be astronomical.

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Red spinels are most commonly found in three different areas: Vietnam, Burma and Mahenge, Tanzania. Mahenge spinels have in the past ten years or so been coming out with the intense hot pinks and reds that display tons of red fluorescence under UV, which enhances it’s color under UV lighting conditions and causes it to appear to have some “glow”.

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I keep hearing buzz about ultra red “Jedi spinels” but I haven’t taken a great interest in them because I know from what I’ve heard that they are going to be astronomically expensive, that is, IF you can get your hands on any of them!

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So, the fun part of this post is that I’m adding a coupon code for all of the red and hot pink spinels in my etsy shop for two weeks only! So you can use the code “REDSPINEL” (no quotes) for 15% off from March 16 through the 31st at midnight. If you’ve been eyeing any of the reds or hot pinks in my store, now is the time to go and snatch them up!

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Exciting News!

I am adding an extra post this week to announce that I have opened up an etsy store! Now, I’m still working towards getting my own site with my own designs, but in the meantime, I really wanted to get some of the loose gemstones that have been collected over the years out of my possession and into someone else’s.

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I don’t plan on replenishing the supply of gemstones because I can’t set or keep everything and I need to make space for new stuff! So if I don’t already have it in my possession, odds are good that I won’t be getting it, but I can always point you in a direction that might be fruitful.

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There are also some items of jewelry and settings on the etsy store as well, mostly because I don’t have room in my jewelry box for them anymore. Hah!

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This post is to announce the grand opening of my etsy shop!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheGemstoneProject

Because I wanted to thank my readers for checking it out, if you see something you like, I’m offering a 10% off coupon code (no quotes) on any purchase over $100 for the month of February: “GRANDOPENING”

My inventory consists of mostly precision cut stones, with a heavy emphasis on oranges, reds, purples and blues, plus a healthy dose of green, and some random earthy shades as well. There is always the risk that I’ll randomly get inspired by a gem in the shop, and it may be pulled to make into a piece of jewelry, so if you see something you like, please grab it while you can!

So please, check out the store, and if you’re looking for something in particular, I might have it, and it just hasn’t been listed yet. So please feel free to reach out and ask if I have an item and you don’t see it in the shop. Should you end up picking up something, I’m always available to help design a setting!

Gemstones: What to look for

So, buying gemstones is a tricky business. I’ve been doing it for many years, but I’m still far from being an expert at it.

Now, having said that, I do have some guidelines that I try to follow when I am after something. There are just too many variables for an easy how-to kind of guide the way diamonds have. There isn’t a lot of set pricing for various colored gemstones, so you have to do a lot of research to know if you’re getting a good deal or at least a fair deal.

Color
Color dictates everything. Red, especially pure red stones will be the most expensive stones you can buy. Pure blues, greens, yellows, and beautiful pinks won’t be far behind. Oranges are also very difficult to find, and are typically best found in garnets, but occasionally a great orange sapphire will come around.

Cut
This is something that’s different for everyone. I can overlook cut flaws for great color, some people are not as lenient as I am.

Clarity
This is something else that’s different for everyone. I don’t mind some inclusions, especially if they are cool looking (bubbles in spinels! Horsetail inclusions in demantoids!) but some people want completely clean and flaw-free. With most colored stones, this just isn’t possible. Not only that, but inclusions can help indicate the treatment level of a stone.

Size/Carat/Dimensions
Always buy by dimensions! Sapphires, for instance, are very dense and heavy, which means that 1ct will face up smaller than stones that are less dense.

Price
What is your budget for the project? How much does the gem in the size and color you desire typically cost? How savvy of a negotiator are you? You aren’t going to find a well cut, ideal blue with violet secondary in the 5ct range for $1k, unless it’s a fakey.

Treatment
Gemstones are constantly being treating in new and interesting ways that would lend to better color and clarity, not to mention making fakes. So the labs out there are having to stay on top if new treatments and innovative ways to, lets face it, scam people (ugh, the jewelry industry has such a bad rap when it comes to this topic!). The gems that are worth the most come out of the ground as you see them. There are different levels of heating, and other type of treatment – so many that I won’t got into all of them here. The GIA and AGL websites have tons of information on treatments.

Helpful hints:
1. If you’re buying a sapphire, ruby or emerald of a larger size, get a lab report.
2. Ask questions and ask for more pictures. If the seller doesn’t know the answers to the questions, and doesn’t seem to care about getting you the information you need, I’d reconsider doing business with them.
3. Familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of buying the gemstone variety you’re looking at. Blue topaz is almost always irradiated. Emeralds are almost always oil treated. Sapphires are almost always heated. Garnets and spinels typically aren’t treated (although lately there are rumors of heat treatment for color and clarity enhancement.) Look for comparables. I always go to reputable seller’s sites and compare compare compare. I try to find at least 3 other stones of similar size, shape, color.  If you’re after something really rare, this is harder than it sounds.
4. Ask outsiders for help! If you don’t know, ask someone else! Develop relationships with jewelers and utilize their knowledge. Ask for my help!
5. Understand that if someone acts like an expert on everything, they probably aren’t. Most jewelers are not well versed in gemstones because they aren’t as popular as diamonds.
6. Google is your friend. Seriously, I google stuff all of the time!
7. Don’t buy from the TV stations.
8. Buy what you like.
9. Manage your expectations!

Two unheated 5ctish Aquas. Blue is precision cut, green is not. Both are glorious in their own ways!

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Feature: Lang Antique & Estate Jewelry Outside

So, we took a trip to San Francisco, and I specially put aside a Saturday afternoon for going to Lang Antique & Estate Jewelry with a very good friend of mine who is looking for an engagement ring for her friend, and keeping an eye out for her own boyfriend. When we got there, we had to wait outside, because the interior was full and everyone was helping customers. Now, usually I wouldn’t appreciate waiting outside, but the outside display of Lang might be better than the inside.

I probably won’t say much, as the pictures kind of speak for themselves.

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Blue sapphires.

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Emeralds and diamonds.

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Diamonds and gems

 

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Rubies, diamonds and emeralds.

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I was fascinated by the light pink sapphire three stone. The ruby cabochon ring right above it was enchanting as well; it glowed like it had a light inside.

 

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Diamonds and a few rubies. I particularly liked the large emerald ring in front, but it kind of reminded me of Angelina Jolie’s engagement ring to Brad Pitt, and I’m not a big fan of her ring, but the more exaggerated taper on this one was far more appealing.

 

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Multi-colored sapphires.

 

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Rubies, diamonds, huge rose cut diamond ring.

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Closer shot of the ruby cabochon, star sapphire and pale pink sapphire.

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Rubies and diamonds.

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We finally made it inside, but we wanted to wait for the diamond case, so I decided to entertain myself by taking pictures of some of the cases.

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Smaller gemstone jewelry.

 

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Rubies and pink sapphires.

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Amazing brooches.

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To be continued….